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Connor Zilisch Adds His Name to List of CARS Tour Winners

Photo credit: zMAX CARS Tour

Connor Zilisch is eager to prove he can win anywhere in 2024.

The 17-year-old was already part of winning efforts at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring to start the year, but he’s also been honing his craft in oval racing in recent years. That dedication paid off Saturday with a win at Hickory Motor Speedway in the zMAX CARS Tour’s Late Model Stock division.

Zilisch flexed his muscle after qualifying 11th, making his way into the top five before the 50-lap mark of the 150-lap race. The Trackhouse Racing development driver took the lead on lap 111 and held off Brenden Queen on a late restart to take the win.

“I want to take credit for it, but it was all this race car my [Pinnacle Racing Group] team brought,” said Zilisch in victory lane. “We worked so hard this offseason. We weren’t able to race the first race of the season, I had some conflict. To come here, my first race with this team, and end up in victory lane in a CARS Tour Late Model Stock race is incredible.

“I’ve won the Rolex 24, I’ve won the Sebring 12 Hour, but this race right here is one I’ve wanted for so long. I’ve worked so hard in these Late Model Stocks. It’s just a testament to all these guys. This car was so good and so fast, it made my job easy.”

While Zilisch is better known for his road racing accomplishments, he hopes that a win against some of the top Late Model drivers in a CARS Tour event shows he can also get the job done on ovals.

“It’s a dream come true to win one of these races, but hopefully it’s the first of many,” said Zilisch. “The level of competition in this series is incredible. Fifteen guys can come out here and win a race on any given weekend. That makes these wins that much more special. I think my best run going into today was maybe ninth, so a win is big for me.

“I’ve definitely had people saying, oh, he can’t drive on an oval, this and that. I feel like if I put the work in, I can race anywhere.”

Kyle Campbell Stays Perfect With CARS Pro Late Models in 2024

Kyle Campbell is now two-for-two to start the Pro Late Model season in the zMAX CARS Tour, as he won the 100-lap event to start Saturday evening’s proceedings at Hickory.

Campbell was dominant in the race, only briefly losing the lead to Caden Kvapil in a battle near the halfway mark of the event. As fate would have it, Campbell’s hot start is thanks in part to acquiring a car from the Kvapil stable.

“We got a good car purchased from the Kvapil family. The approach never really changed. I’ve got to keep all the fenders on it. If I don’t keep all the fenders on it, we don’t get to come back next week.”

However, contact between those two drivers put a damper on Kvapil’s evening as he finished 14th, one lap down.

“I don’t really know what happened to me and Kvapil. He was really fast until we got together down in turn one. Spotter says it was a racing deal, I don’t think I pinched him too hard. I’m sorry to him if I did anything wrong. We don’t want to tear his stuff up, we bought the car from him.”

Nevertheless, Campbell carried on to the win, proving his season-opening victory at Southern National Motorsports was anything but a fluke.

“I think everyone, obviously, when I won at Southern National, that was a surprise, I feel,” said Campbell. “People underestimated me because of how I ran last year. It wasn’t the best car in the world. It doesn’t look good, but nobody really knows that. It definitely added a lot of confidence.

“I didn’t feel we had a great car in practice. Just like at Southern National, when it came to qualifying time, it clicked with the pole and the win, so this one feels pretty good.”

Spencer Davis finished second, with strong words for Conner Jones after their battle for the runner-up spot in the second half of the race.

“We just came in and adjusted the toe,” said Davis. “We had a little bit of an issue there. Everybody on my team did a good job getting me back out there before the green flags ran. We got it back right how we had it in practice. We had an issue that arose in qualifying, and it showed. We passed 28 cars clean.”

“Some kids just don’t know how to race,” Davis continued. “They’ve never known how to race, no matter what series he’s in, no matter what ride he buys. We played around for a little bit and Kyle Campbell got far enough away from us.

“We’re here to kick ass and take names, so we’re not here to run second. It’s a disappointing night. I’ll have to thank the guys back at the shop. We’ll print us a new wrap, get the 44 off of it and we’ll be good to go.”

Tempers flared after a multi-car incident on lap 48, as Tyler Tanner shared his displeasure with Ashton Higgins. After climbing out of his own car, Tanner ran to Higgins’ machine on pit road before striking it with his own steering wheel.

-Photo credit: zMAX CARS Tour

CARS TOUR TUFF SHED 250 AT HICKORY UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

LATE MODEL STOCK CARS

FIN NO DRIVER LAPS DIFF
1 28 Connor Zilisch 150
2 03 Brenden Queen 150 1.392
3 16 Chad McCumbee 150 2.879
4 22 Connor Hall 150 4.602
5 81 Mini Tyrrell 150 5.538
6 6 Bobby McCarty 150 5.885
7 23 Kade Brown 150 6.276
8 15 Ryan Millington 150 6.912
9 29 Brent Crews 150 7.954
10 77 Treyten Lapcevich 150 8.659
11 24 Cody Dempster 150 8.831
12 95 Jacob Heafner 150 9.605
13 62 Landen Lewis 150 9.988
14 2 Brandon Pierce 150 11.270
15 37 Landon Huffman 150 12.974
16 57 Josh Kossek 150 13.176
17 45 Bryce Applegate 150 14.945
18 04 Ronnie Bassett, Jr. 150 15.532
19 11 Buddy Isles, Jr. 149 1 Lap
20 71 Katie Hettinger 149 1 Lap
21 15C Logan Clark 115 35 Laps
22 44F Jonathan Findley 113 37 Laps
23 08 Deac McCaskill 76 74 Laps
24 8 Mason Diaz 73 77 Laps
25 1 Andrew Grady 63 87 Laps
26 44 Conner Jones 47 103 Laps
27 14 Sam Butler 47 103 Laps
28 67 Cameron Bolin 24 126 Laps
29 55 Gio Ruggiero
30 40 Taylor Satterfield

PRO LATE MODELS

FIN NO DRIVER LAPS DIFF
1 03 Kyle Campbell 100
2 29 Spencer Davis 100 1.078
3 43 Nick Loden 100 3.474
4 44 Conner Jones 100 4.810
5 71 Katie Hettinger 100 5.991
6 00 Jimmy Renfrew 100 6.406
7 96 T.J. DeCaire 100 10.383
8 15 Aiden King 100 10.791
9 51 Kaden Honeycutt 100 11.259
10 22 Kyle Steckly 100 11.781
11 7C Tyler Church 100 12.975
12 7 Justin Crider 100 13.651
13 97 Dylan Garner 100 14.314
14 35 Caden Kvapil 99 1 Lap
15 6B Brandon Lopez 99 1 Lap
16 43H Joshua Horniman 98 2 Laps
17 24 Jake Bollman 74 26 Laps
18 47 Dustin Bryson 62 38 Laps
19 9 Ashton Higgins 54 46 Laps
20 17 Hudson Bulger 50 50 Laps
21 88 Max Reaves 50 50 Laps
22 65 Tyler Tanner 48 52 Laps
23 6 Tristan McKee 48 52 Laps
24 39 Max Cookson 48 52 Laps
25 20 Kris Wright 48 52 Laps
26 49 Jeff Batten 44 56 Laps
27 77 Logan Jones 44 56 Laps
28 62 William Hale 7 93 Laps
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